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FDA clears quick MRSA test

May 09, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • The FDA cleared a new test to quickly identify MRSA, a staph bacteria highly resistant to antibiotics, from more common strains.
The FDA cleared a new test to quickly identify MRSA, a staph bacteria highly… (Janice Haney Carr / Centers…)

Determining whether a staph infection can be effectively treated with common antibiotics such as methicillin, penicillin and amoxicillin may soon get a little quicker. The FDA has just cleared a new test that can rapidly assess whether the infection-causing bacteria are methicillin-resistant.

Current lab methods take one to two days for a result, according to the new test's manufacturer. The FDA says the new test, which uses a sample of the patient's blood, can determine whether the infection is caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (commonly known as MRSA) within five hours of the first bacterial growth within the sample. 

The quick distinction is important in the healthcare world: the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of infection in hospitals, and the MRSA strains are highly resistant to common antibiotics.

The FDA based its decision on a study of 1,116 blood samples and the test correctly identified MRSA in 98.9% of the blood samples containing MRSA.

“This not only saves time in diagnosing potentially life-threatening infections but also allows healthcare professionals to optimize treatment and start appropriate contact precautions to prevent the spread of the organism,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics Device Evaluation and Safety in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a news release from the agency.

In other words, doctors and nurses may be able to waste less time using drugs that prove ineffectual.

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